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C.R. Hosmer House(1900-1, 1911-12)
3630 Drummond Street [3630 Sir William Osler Promenade], Montreal, QC, Canada
Residential, Urban house [detached, basement, 2 floors, attic, 11 bedrooms, 7 servants' rooms]; stone; composite
Client: Charles Rudolph Hosmer
Description: Mr. Charles R. Hosmer, born in 1851, was a prominent figure in the CPR telegraph business and the President of the Ogilvie Flour Mills. He purchased a site on the flank of Mount Royal consisting of two parcels of land, in September 1899 and December 1900. In 1909, he purchased additional land from the J.T. Davis (368) family, neighbours to the north. By March 1900, Hosmer asked Edward Maxwell to design a house on the empty site. The Canadian Contract Record for January 16, 1901 notes the granting of a building permit for the house. Interior fixtures were being installed, indicating that the building was nearing completion in June 1902.
The Hosmer House is the most magnificent of the Maxwell’s grand city mansions. Constructed of red sand stone from the Moat Quarry near Galashiels, Scotland, the house comprises of two storeys with an attic and a basement. The main elevation, facing east toward Sir William Osler Promenade, is three bays wide with a central doorway sheltered by a columned and balustraded one-storey porch. Large triangular pediments designed with cartouches and scrolls crown the surrounding windows. The windows on the first floor have simpler, rectangular surrounds decorated with keystones. A heavy cornice and balustrade demarcates the attic, which is covered by a Mansard roof. Here the windows are set in dormers featuring top-heavy segmental pediments, which also rest on consoles and are ornamented with cartouches in their centres. The pediment that crowns the centre of the main elevation is larger than the rest and is set above an oeil-de-boeuf window.
The south elevation overlooking downtown Montreal is six bays wide. The centre projects forward to form the elliptical bay of the drawing room. A recessed wing at the rear, accommodating a billiard room and pantry on the ground floor, has a verandah attached to its south face. The northern front facing the mountain features a porte-cochère, so that the house has, in effect, two formal entrances, attributed to Montreal’s harsh winter climate. The masonry treatment consists of a rusticated basement, heavy quoins at the four corners and smooth ashlar walls, setting off the lush, neo-Baroque carved ornament on the window heads, doorways and at cornice level.
The interior was planned as a setting for grand social occasions. At the core of the ground floor is a long, spacious hall, which forms a main central axis extending west from the front door on Sir William Osler Promenade. Located on a secondary axis are the porte-cochère entrance, the main interior staircase and the drawing room. The staircase divides at a landing lit by a window looking out and then doubles back to reach the upper hall. The only ground floor room not entered from the main hall is the dining room pantry. It was furnished with a lift and dumbwaiter since the kitchen, servants’ hall and two servant’s bedrooms were situated in the basement. Entering from the Sir William Osler Promenade, the reception room is located to the left and continues into the drawing room. Decorated in a French Rococo manner, this opulent little chamber had walls hung in green silk and furniture covered in Gobelins tapestry. It is distinguished by its intricate carved decoration and has the most elaborate ceiling in the house – infused with intricate plasterwork, ceiling panels and rondels painted by Frederick W. Hutchison (1871-1953). In the drawing room, the furniture was Louis XV, and the walls were covered in rose silk. The design and coloring of the woven Savonnerie carpets were chosen after the wall coverings had been selected. A portrait of a pink-robed figure inspired the color scheme by Sir Joshua Reynolds, painter of the English aristocracy. This was placed over the fireplace facing the door to the hall, in a frame designed by the architects.
The decor of the great hallway was treated in a modern spirit. The woodwork is quarter-cut American white oak deepened in tone. The ceiling beams are bound with straps of hand-forged iron in a half-polished finish. The Dutch stained glass staircase detail is exquisite in quality. The library next to the entrance door has heavy and masculine ornamentation. Rich, dark tones predominate. The fireplace is made from Connemara green marble, with rosewood used for the elaborately carved door and window surroundings, frieze, and panelled ceiling. The walls are covered with a silk and velvet fabric depicting the images from the Renaissance period. The dining room, featuring a French Gothic flavor, contains a carved mahogany wainscot, a beam-and-plaster-paneled ceiling, and walls covered with a blue hand-woven tapestry by William Morris. The treatment of the breakfast room and the billiard room indicates the work of contemporary craftsmen and designers with abundant furnishing.
The Hosmer House, having weathered many decades, was bought by McGill in 1969 and now houses the Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy. In 1976, more than thirty original Renaissance domestic stained glass panels were discovered in the windows and door panes of the mansion. They were found to be an anthology of Flemish, Dutch, French, German, Swiss and Italian styles. They have since been reinstalled in the Macdonald-Harrington Building where they enhance the walls of the faculty offices of the School of Architecture. Many of the rooms of Hosmer House have been altered to suit the building’s new function, but the original concept is still evident.
Holdings: Urban house (detached, basement, 2 floors, attic, 11 bedrooms, 7 servants' rooms); stone; composite
|I M A G E S: Drawings Photographs|
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